|DEC. 24, 2017
Kairos | Whew! It wasn't easy, but we can finally say Kairos, the follow-up and companion EP to Kronos, is finally available to stream/buy at our store and at CD Baby, along with all of the big online outfits.
As explained in several posts below, we've been at this a while -- since the summer of 2015, when we first began rehearsing the new material that would end up on the EP. Complicating matters was the fact that we'd already started another project (see Kronos). When Mary Beth suggested we combine the two projects thematically, we all loved the idea. But that didn't make the process any less convoluted.
For Kairos, we recorded the drums at London Bridge Studio in Seattle. Drummer Chris G laid down the tracks, and producer and engineer Jonathan Plum captured them behind the console. A few weeks later, we started recording vocals, guitars, and bass at our respective homes. The project hit a snag when bassist Greg Strickland and his lovely wife Martha announced they had a wee one on the way. While they went into nesting mode, we occupied our time with finishing Kronos, which had been simmering on the back burner.
Are you confused yet? Don't worry. We are, too. All we know for sure is that we finally finished mixing and mastering Kairos a month ago and sent it out for duplication. Like Kronos, this album features more experimentation with home recording. But the big improvement in production values came courtesy of Jonathan and everyone at London Bridge Studio, whose drum room is world-class. There's just no substitution for a great space (the professional mics, recording console, and producer helped, too!). We think Kairos, though a mere five songs, might be one of our best albums to date and makes the perfect companion piece to Kronos. But we're admittedly biased. Let us know how we did.
JULY 18, 2017
Kronos | Break out the champagne, cue the fireworks, etc. Kronos is finally available! You can stream/buy it here, buy a physical CD from CD Baby, and/or buy it in digital format from CD Baby and all the big online retailers.
As noted in posts below, this is our first foray into home recording. The process worked like this for each song: I created a pre-production demo consisting of guitar and scratch vocals (the latter required a bit of imagination, since I was doing the singing). Those files, along with a click track, went to drummer John Standley, who recorded himself on drums playing along. John is a pretty improvisational drummer. In fact, he's unlikely to play anything the same way twice. Instead of polishing something within an inch of its life, he prefers to capture a first or second take, ensuring we preserve that initial energy that always manifests itself when a song is first coming together.
Once he was done, John then sent the drum tracks back to me. He used a minimal miking technique, but that still meant he sent about seven tracks for each song, since some parts of his kit, like the bass and snare, had two mics on them. Then I went about creating finished layers of guitar, bass, and whatever else was required. Since bassist Greg and his wife Martha had a baby on the way while we were recording this, we only bothered him for one song, "The Trick," which wouldn't have worked without his amazing fretless bass skills. Then, once the instruments were in place, Mary Beth sang over the top of everything, sometimes adding multiple backing harmonies or other vocal parts.
After that, I mixed and mastered. Each part of the process was a challenge, requiring lots of do-overs and adjustments big and small, and nowhere did my inexperience (and lack of professional software/outboard gear) rear its ugly head more than during mastering. In the end, we're thrilled with the results, but not because they're perfect. When John first approached us about doing this album, we established some basic ground rules. Rule No. 1: this was going to be rough, spontaneous, and a reflection of our growth as engineers and producers. In other words, we weren't going to sweat the small stuff or turn our first foray into home recording into a miserable experience. All that really mattered was capturing the energy of each song. We think we did that, although, admittedly, some songs lived up to our expectations more than others. But you be the judge. Let us know what you think.
13 JUNE, 2017
Kronos sneak preview | We've got CDs of Kronos in our grubby little hands now, but the official release will have to wait another week or so while digital distribution is put into place, at which point, the EP will be available at all the usual suspects (I-Tunes, Amazon, CD Baby, etc.). We'll let you know when Kronos is officially available.
In the meantime, you can pick up a copy at our show this Sunday at Meeker Days (we play the main stage at 12:45 p.m.). You can also preview one of the tracks on YouTube:
18 MAY, 2017
Kronos and Kairos | We've spent the last two years (and then some) juggling two studio projects simultaneously: an EP with John Standley, who enjoyed a couple of brief stints as our drummer way back in the early days, and an EP with Chris Gorczyca, drummer on Bells and Morning After Food Poisoning in the South of France. The result of taking on both projects at the same time is that we've progressed at a snail's pace.
We won't bore you with the details. But we do want you to know that both projects are nearing completion and, fittingly enough, will retain a loose connection, thematically speaking. The first to be released, Kronos, is a five-song EP with John behind drums. Everything was recorded at home -- but not necessarily the same home. Three homes, to be exact: two in Seattle and one in Tacoma. Files were traded via Dropbox. Multiple, agonizing attempts were made to mix and master. And after much blood, sweat, and tears, CDs are in production at Disc Makers as I write this.
The second EP, Kairos, is nearing the homestretch. We recorded the drums at London Bridge Studio and the rest of the music at home(s). Together, the two albums reflect the range of creative impulses we've explored over the last few years. Some of the songs have been in the hopper for a decade or more. Others sprang to life rather spontaneously. If "kronos" is the ordered, linear progression of time and "kairos" is the transcendence thereof, these two albums are not nearly so neatly divided. There's plenty of overlap. But they mark a transition for us, a break from the way we've always recorded. Instead of relying on professional studios and engineers/producers, we're learning to record and produce our own music. The learning curve has been huge and intimidating. But the ensuing challenge has been fun, to put it mildly.
Next up is a full-length album with none other than Gibson Kite on drums. But that one is still in its infant stages. For now, we'll focus on bringing these two albums to you. We'll still be playing with a rotating cast of drummers, and we hope to make a video or two and debut some of the new material live at upcoming shows. Stay tuned.
28 APRIL, 2016
The kid can play | I'll admit I was a little distracted at our last show. For starters, it had been a while. More importantly still, a new guy was sitting behind the drums: our son. Gibson James Kite left everyone gobsmacked April 2 at Louie G's in Fife, including his old man. The kid can play. He possesses a rare combination of fire and poise. He pushed the limits all night but was always in control. He's only fifteen, which means he can only sit in on all-ages shows with us for now, but my hunch is we'll be playing a few of those in the coming months.
Here he is playing "Split Rail" (Amnesty) with us:
19 MARCH, 2016
Progress report | We've been busy little bees. In October, we recorded six songs with Jonathan Plum at London Bridge Studio. Well, technically, we recorded just the drums (with Chris G doing the honors). Everything else was just a scratch (temporary) track. Since then, we've been toiling away at our respective home studios to put the finishing touches on vocals, guitar, bass, and keyboard. We're thrilled with what we've got so far, but the finish line isn't yet in sight.
In the meantime, we've got a couple live shows in the works. The first will be an all-ages one at Louie G's Pizza (Fife) on April 2. Gibson Kite, now 15, will be sitting behind the drums (take cover!). The second will be at Tim's Tavern (Seattle) on May 7 with Roger Johnson pounding out the backbeat (woot!). For more details, see our calendar on the home page.
8 AUGUST, 2015
Our own propaganda | We recently stumbled across a propaganda film from the Vietnam War era and were mesmerized by some of the footage. The 25-minute film is entitled Twenty-Five Hour Day, and we managed to cut it down to about three and a half minutes of spooky imagery. All it needed was a soundtrack::
2 JULY, 2015
A long overdue update | Things are beginning to take shape for our next recording. We've got six songs and a general timetable. If all goes as planned, we'll record "Winter," "Kairos," "Sweet-Song," "Dream Too Much," "Love Falls Like Snow," and "Fuzz Sack" (working title) this September. The plan is to track the drums at London Bridge Studio and then bass, vocals, guitar, and keyboard at our respective home studios. As for mixing and mastering, well, we'll jump off those bridges when we get to them.
Although busily rehearsing and trading preproduction demos, we have had some time to attend a couple of monumental occasions. The first was a welcome-home party in April for Jamie Buckley, a Seattle-ite by way of Scotland who has been separated from his husband Tim due to, among other things, red tape and the slow march of social progress. When he was finally able to return to Seattle for good and reunite with Tim, his friends threw him a bash at R Place on Capitol Hill in Seattle. We were honored to provide live music for the event -- and later on to clear our instruments out of the way so the drag queens could take center stage.
It was a special night for many reasons, not the least of them our own little reunion on stage. Bassist Jay Perry flew up from Phoenix to sit in for Greg Strickland, and the four of us (Jay, MB, Roger, and me), basked in our little trip back through time. We mostly played material from the Spinner, Amnesty, and Be era, although we did throw in "Golden Hour" and "Siren" (Siren) both of which Jay had played long before they found their way onto an album. Toward the end, we played a couple of cover songs, one featuring Jamie on vocals (he rocked it in a kilt). We drank one too many fireballs that night but otherwise left with smiles on our faces (and only mild hangovers).
Greg couldn't make it to the party because, well, he was busy preparing for his own wedding one week later near the Ballard Locks, where he tied the knot with his lovely bride Martha Nichols. The outdoor ceremony was pitch-perfect, complete with unusually mild spring weather, a gaggle of adorable flower girls, and a string trio that sent Greg and Martha down the aisle to the tune of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" (guilty pleasure!). Afterward, we ate, drank, and danced the night away. Chris G, Greg, MB, and I even stood still long enough for a photo. Chris will be joining us on drums for our forthcoming recording.
3 APRIL, 2015
Oops | We're still in full-on creative mode, which means we've been dedicating zero time to this website, our Facebook page, or any other social media outlet. Music publicists, band managers, and industry gurus all advise against ever dropping out -- even for a second. Indeed, we're supposed to make time for regular and frequent interaction with our fans and friends. All I can say on our behalf is, "Oops."
We really need to go away for a while sometimes, and this is one of those times. The plus side: we're hard at work on the next album. Mary Beth and I have been e-mailing demos to Greg (bass) and Chris (drums), and the four of us have been getting together to work out arrangements. We're not sure if the forthcomiong album is going to be a full-length effort or "just" an EP. So far we've been operating with only one rule in mind: no rules. Chris whipped out a double-bass drum part for a song called "Winter," and we all smiled. That's something that has never made it onto a TWBA record.